Another Example of our Transportation Spending Priorities

By Nicholas Kevlahan
Published June 21, 2012

I just read this article in today's Spectator on a planned upgrade to Peters Corners at Highway 5 and 8:

The Ministry of Transportation (MTO) is constructing a roundabout at the intersection of highways 5 and 8, and Regional Road 52 in Flamborough - a junction that's frequently the site of vehicle collisions.

The province committed $5.7 million to the project, which will replace the existing traffic lights at the two highways with the roundabout, realign the roads that approach the circle and make upgrades to the illumination, signage and drainage in the area, said MTO spokesperson Astrid Poei.

Apparently, spending $5.7 million to convert one rural intersection to a roundabout, which benefits only motorists, is prudent use of taxpayer money, but the much smaller amounts spent to convert entire city streets to two-way traffic or to widen sidewalks is a waste of money.

The problem is that most people are unaware of how expensive highway construction is [PDF] - about $30 million per km for the 401, and apparently $168 million per km for the Windsor Essex Parkway.

Nicholas Kevlahan was born and raised in Vancouver, and then spent eight years in England and France before returning to Canada in 1998. He has been a Hamiltonian since then, and is a strong believer in the potential of this city. Although he spends most of his time as a mathematician, he is also a passionate amateur urbanist and a fan of good design. You can often spot him strolling the streets of the downtown, shopping at the Market. Nicholas is the spokesperson for Hamilton Light Rail.


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By jason (registered) | Posted June 21, 2012 at 08:51:13

De-amalgmation.... the only piece of platform our mayor actually had during the last election. I wish he would get moving on it.

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By rednic (registered) | Posted June 21, 2012 at 13:13:54 in reply to Comment 78746

no offense, but if you fell for that one you where a victim of deception . Amalgamation / Deamalgamation is a provincial issue not a municipal one. Every Amalgamated city objected and it was forced down their throats.

I guess Bratina could of campaigned that he would lower the value of the CAD versus USD to help the steel industry, but even he knew he couldn't sell that one.

The moral of the story when you and your friends want be on the sunshine list, truth can be thrown out the window

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By CouldaWouldaShoulda (anonymous) | Posted June 21, 2012 at 09:40:16 in reply to Comment 78746

Any other wishes you'd like to confess to while you're at it, Jason?

: )

A city that cannot deal with garbage disposal, cannot deal with ward boundary reform, cannot deal with pro-active downtown development initiatives as opposed to peripheral ones-

I mean, seriously; do you really think there's any greater a chance of this unfolding than playing shinny in Hades?

People can't/won't see 'de-amalgamation' as the false goal that it is. (I was never in favour of amalgmation and still don't believe in it...though I *do* believe in 'strategic alliances'...) The fact is that our councillors *should* be able to lead us into a better future in this Greater Amalgamated City of Hamilton. The problem isn't the's the dearth of leadership and performance.

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By jason (registered) | Posted June 21, 2012 at 10:47:27 in reply to Comment 78749

Yes, leadership is missing. You're right. But there's also a band of councillors who will never care what downtown Hamilton is like. They earn votes on being 'anti-Hamilton'. And when I say de-amalgamation, I'm not talking about going back to that dumb regional government where 75% of the cost of outlying sprawl was paid for by urban Hamilton...I'm talking a complete de-amalgamation. Suburbs would need to run all their own water lines, or pay hefty rental fees to Hamilton, provide their own services with their own taxes, none of ours etc.....
It'll never happen because the suburban councillors know they would go bankrupt in a matter of months....but they'll never tell their citizens that. They keep playing this 'we prop up urban Hamilton' myth.

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By Conrad66 (registered) | Posted June 21, 2012 at 14:15:17 in reply to Comment 78756

I hear you Jason .. man i wish we can deamalmate im tierd of all of this the urbain sectore gets hits the worst or get it ..... oh and there is a festival comming up .... City hall dont give 80 or more grands for the FOF Suburbs ar all there own littel world Ancaster is Ancaster Stoney Creek is Stoney Creek Flamborow is Flamborow Dundas is Dundas .. there all ashamed to call them self Hamiltonians , im sick and tierd of hearing them crying all the time you don`t like it sell what ever you have and more out in the West of Canada

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By CouldaWouldaShoulda (anonymous) | Posted June 21, 2012 at 11:38:28 in reply to Comment 78756

At the risk of mystoneycreeking this thread...

As I said to one of Hamilton's other 'aware-and-energized' residents recently, 'Leadership doesn't start and end with Council.' In fact, if that's what you're hoping for, in this changing world you're pleading for disappointment.

What you say is true about the fiscal realities. And I'll admit that this mindset...turf-protection in its simplest form...really makes me more sympathetic to the notion of term limits. However...

One of the things that is consistent here on RTH is the view that 'the world is changing, whether or not you agree'. Ryan and I may have our differences, but I applaud him for investing as much as he has and does in trying to get people to see that we need to do better than our current car-centric culture. (As Clive Owen says in the trailer for 'Inside Man', please pay attention to what I say, I choose my words *very* carefully.) Some deride him for his message. Some say he's too dogmatic about it, too dismissive of how deeply entrenched- Oh, you get the point.

I feel the same way about our governance. In fact, there's a real parallel there. We are entrenched in non-involvement, in non-investment in our own governence. "It's too HARD to change!" "Give it up, what you keep going on about is NEVER GOING TO HAPPEN!!" And yet my belief in the need for change...parallel to Ryan's (and yours and Adrian's and others') unwavering.

Don't count on any 'saviour candidates'. Don't count on a shift in tack because this councillor gets voted in, or that one is voted out. In the end, this enormous beast that we keep feeding will be with us...

...until we take our proper role at the governance table.

So; no, it'll never happen while 'suburban councillors' maintain their status quo...but more than this, it'll never happen if we don't change the way we see things and how we act on that vision.

'We, the people', my friend.

"Be the change you want to see in the world."

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By rednic (registered) | Posted June 21, 2012 at 13:16:12

I'd love to see the stats of the traffic accidents at tis intersection. But one wonders if they are not about to spend 5.7 million because of drunk drivers.

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By mrgrande (registered) | Posted June 21, 2012 at 13:57:02

Let's list better uses of $6,000,000, than putting a large roundabout at a rural highway intersection!

I'll start:

  1. Anything else.

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By rednic (registered) | Posted June 22, 2012 at 06:13:12 in reply to Comment 78769

How about taking that 6 million and fixing the worst road in the city (in more ways than 1). King East between Sherman and Wentworth. Oh wait that will never happen.... it's in ward 3!

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By Core-B (registered) | Posted June 22, 2012 at 07:46:40 in reply to Comment 78793

I agree King St here is in bad shape. Maybe just maybe they don't want to spend money on it only to have to tear it up for LRT. Here's hoping. PS: I just cleaned my rose coloured glasses lol

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By Robert D (anonymous) | Posted June 21, 2012 at 14:29:46 in reply to Comment 78769

3. Handing out free baguettes to anyone cycling by King and James. :-p

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By CaptainKirk (anonymous) | Posted June 21, 2012 at 14:04:11

2. Two Way conversions of King and Main Streets.

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By venus or serena (anonymous) | Posted June 21, 2012 at 14:34:06

3. Fix the tennis courts at Westdale high.

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By Pxtl (registered) - website | Posted June 22, 2012 at 08:48:27 in reply to Comment 78774

I've lived in Westdale my entire life and I can't recall ever seeing anyone use those.

I'm actually surprised the city isn't just ripping the decrepit old things out.

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By Gary Santucci (anonymous) | Posted June 21, 2012 at 17:29:54

4. Pay for 10 more washrooms on the Waterfront

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By ViennaCafe (registered) | Posted June 21, 2012 at 18:50:46

As a long time observer of politics, I can tell you that politicians can spend any amount of money at all (and they do) on roads without so much as raising an eyebrow, but spend a dime on anything else ...

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By brendansimons (registered) | Posted June 22, 2012 at 01:43:31

Blame voters. When people complain of high taxes, the first thing they complain about is the poor condition of the roads. We have a huge cultural uphill battle to win before spending priorities shift from cars to neighborhoods. Hopefully this campaign will help.

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By CouldaWouldaShoulda (anonymous) | Posted June 22, 2012 at 06:37:22 in reply to Comment 78792

And to think that we really haven't even begun to address our infrastructure problem, with roads being the most evident aspect of just how far behind we are.

I'll confess, I don't know what Council's strategy is about the infrastructure timebomb; I can't recall reading anything in recent memory, any official statement or press release. And maybe this is part of the strategy.

As far as the 'cultural uphill battle' goes, don't you think that we shouldn't create yet another 'Us vs Them' paradigm, that it's *not* 'cars vs neighbourhoods', if only because currently, our roads make our neighbourhoods possible?

Our public servants need to be pushed to provide better leadership, even in situations such as the one highlighted in this article. The problem to me is that -hand in hand with apathy- residents aren't really aware of 'the big picture'...mostly because the people they put into office don't want to be seen as the messengers of doom...and so we carry on blithely ignorant of our realities, not in true possession of what we'd require to take part in the dialogue, were we even so inclined. And it seems to me that councillors prefer it this way.

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By hot potato (anonymous) | Posted June 22, 2012 at 06:55:11 in reply to Comment 78794

"I don't know what Council's strategy is about the infrastructure timebomb"

What's their strategy about any contentious issue? Put it off until the next term. And the next term. And the next term.

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By kevlahan (registered) | Posted June 22, 2012 at 07:17:39

From today's Spec article on the downtown grocery store incentive:

"Since 2000, various city downtown programs have approved $21 million in loans and about $5 million in grants."

In other words, the downtown has received a total of $5 million in grants in the past 12 years, $700,000 less than we're spending on re-designing one intersection in rural Hamilton.

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By CouldaShouldaWoulda (anonymous) | Posted June 22, 2012 at 08:51:28 in reply to Comment 78797

"Well, I can tell ya... The downtown used to be flourishing, in the 60s and 70s, and then urban sprawl really took hold in Hamilton. And we've put hundreds of thousands of dollars, if not millions of dollars in subsidies to developers in the form of extremely low, or almost no development charges to allow all the urban sprawl to occur in all the suburban parts of the city, south of Hamilton, for example, and that's a very, very clear subsidy that Councils -largely in the past- have provided to those developers so they could grow ever further southwards, which has supported Limeridge Mall and other developments up there at the expense of the downtown. At the same time, the downtown got worse and worse for many years, until the last ten years or so, when the City began its CIP programme for the downtown. You know, I could go on about Glanbrook Business Park, with the subsidy of the Maple Leaf Foods development coming in. Hundreds of thousands of subsidies went to landing Maple Leaf Foods, that was done, we had this explained to us by Tim and others, that's done for the public good, and of course, it has to be, it can't be an entirely private subsidy, it's done for the public good to attract jobs, in that case that was the main focus for us as a city. This is the same thing. We're supporting the downtown in other ways to, in this case to attract a grocery store and what we would hope would be additional housing that would come, that would more than pay for the grocery store coming in through this grant programme. So I think it's a bit rich to pick on the downtown subsidies. If we added up the numbers, they'd be in the millions for subsidizing urban sprawl. over the past probably four or five decades here in Hamilton. We've been in the urban sprawl business for a long time, and we need to turn our attention to the downtown."

Ward 1 Councillor Brian McHattie
GIC meeting, June 20, 2012
re: the $650,000 'forgivable loan/grant' proposal for a downtown grocery store

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By seancb (registered) - website | Posted June 22, 2012 at 12:30:54

This is nothing compared to the cloverleaf ramps going in at clappisons. They are going to build highway five OVER highway 6 there. I assume the goal is so that more traffic can get through more quickly--only to be backed up in downtown waterdown or up at morriston...

Or maybe it's so that we can all get to african lion safari 30 seconds faster?

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By DavidColacci (registered) | Posted June 23, 2012 at 22:51:37 in reply to Comment 78819

ah, no. it's all about getting to the power centre! :)

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By logonfire (registered) | Posted June 22, 2012 at 13:06:03

Why is everyone blaming Hamilton City Council? I wish everyone would read (and understand) the first four words of the quote used by Mr. Kevlahan. They read "The Ministry of Transportation." It is the Province you should be making your comments about!

Comment edited by logonfire on 2012-06-22 13:06:29

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By seancb (registered) - website | Posted June 22, 2012 at 17:59:15 in reply to Comment 78827

These projects are often shared funding and are based on requests initiated by the city. Not always but they are certainly not always 100% provincially driven (and funded) either.

Comment edited by seancb on 2012-06-22 17:59:52

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By Ad Mari (anonymous) | Posted June 25, 2012 at 10:07:53

"The Ministry of Transportation (MTO) is constructing a roundabout at the intersection of highways 5 and 8, and Regional Road 52 in Flamborough - a junction that's frequently the site of vehicle collisions."

What are the pertinent accident stats? How does the rest of the city stack up? This is an issue being framed as a safety issue, so it should be judged on those grounds, not against unrelated grindstones.

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By Mountains Come Out of the Sky & They Sta (anonymous) | Posted June 25, 2012 at 10:16:29

MTO would probably be mindful of benefits to adjacent highway corridors (ie. 5,8,52). The Ministry writes:

"The roundabout design will be able to accommodate traffic volume increases expected over the next 20 years and includes three 2-lane entries and one 1-lane entry. The southbound entry has a dedicated left-turn lane, which provides for heavy left-turn movements during the morning peak traffic. The westbound approach has a fully channelized right-turn bypass. A truck apron around the central island is also included to facilitate large vehicle movements."

Time to start promoting King Street as Historic Highway 8, and really tap that upper-level funding!

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By lol (registered) | Posted June 25, 2012 at 20:54:26

It's all about the money. The people who pay taxes to support the province (MTO)is a provincial ministry not a civic department. These taxpayers typically drive, and their cars are expensive. Unlike the downtown Hamilton area which is a burden to the city's taxpayers. That means it makes good sense to spend $5.7 Million on a highway intersection instead of $650,000 (IF the money came from the same purse) on some foolish attempt to lure a store into an area where it cannot possibly survive.

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By Frequent user of Peter's Corners (anonymous) | Posted August 07, 2012 at 14:40:49


I for one am very much in favour of this much needed upgrade! I cannot believe the people on here that are commenting without any knowledge of this old outdated MAJOR intersection. There are three highways that come together here at very different angles, this is not your typical intersection. I drive through this intersection daily to get to and from work, I live in Ancaster, work in Cambridge. I have waited easily 15-20 minutes each morning waiting for the large traffic back-ups here. Cars turning from 52 onto 8 must first dangerously cross 5, I have witnessed numerous crashes here, and seen the results of fatal accidents. For the MANY MANY users of this intersection, 6M would be worth it, the safety and incrased capacity will be an investment for all for many years to come. I just shake my head that so many people in Hamilton can be so stupid about this matter. The entire council is corupt (I know this for a fact), then when one good thing gets done, such as this upgrade, you complain. Some people just cannot be happy, it makes me re-think moving to Hamilton, I feel that my IQ may have dropped just from being closer to the other commenters on this forum!

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By Noted (anonymous) | Posted February 28, 2013 at 09:39:30

Peter's Corners Roundabout snaps (scroll halfway down):

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